Jacob Trouba hopes a trip to the Stanley Cup playoffs can put a happy face on what has been an otherwise up-and-down fourth NHL season for the Winnipeg defenceman.
The campaign got off to a rocky start for Trouba, 23, who didn’t join the team until early November due to a contract dispute.
“I’m just trying to prove to the organization that I am worthy of the deal I signed and do everything I can to help our team make the playoffs,” said Trouba, who has five goals and 24 points in 47 games and is plus-4 with 45 penalty minutes.
Following his participation in the World Cup of Hockey, where he played two games for Team North America — a talented group of players 23 and under — Trouba’s NHL season debut was put on hold due to his stalemate with the Jets. He was looking for a longer term and more money than the Jets were willing to part with and, after missing the first month of the season, ultimately settled for a two-year deal that will pay him $6 million US.
Trouba was relieved to finally rejoin his teammates.
“It definitely was not fun not playing,” he said of having to watch the Jets play their first 15 games without him. “I think everybody wants to be out there playing, and the World Cup helped distract me for a while, but [the contract dispute] is just part of the business of hockey. Like I said, it’s no fun and I don’t think anybody wins from that type of situation, but it was important and I felt I had to do what was best for my career at the time. I’m happy to be back playing, to be back with the Jets, and to be a part of this team.”
For a while it looked as though Trouba had played his final game with Winnipeg. He had asked to be traded at the end of last season, but the Jets weren’t about to be backed into a corner. They wanted him and the fact he was a restricted free agent meant the Jets had all the leverage they needed to keep him. If he wanted to continue his NHL career, it would be in Winnipeg.